Vanity is my favorite sin!

a southern belle's spot in the big city

European Tour Experience

I recently went on a 16-17 day tour around europe (a little fuzzy on the days bec of the time diff) with a tour group, Pacific Bound. the travel agent/tourguide is our neighbor and we decided to join this time cuz all three of his kids will be joining the trip (so that we’d be with some of our age group. i went with my 17-y.o cousin, early-mid 20s the kids are about the same age) we were lucky cuz there were lotsa kids in our age group that tour. (we were around 12 young ‘uns out of the 36) tito Karl, our Tour Master is also the owner of the Travel Agency. It is a lot handy that he is our neighbor. 🙂

it was a pilgrimage tour (dont knock it til you tried it! i was a little skeptical at first but it was more sightseeing than pilgrimage) so we were lucky to have our age group along as most pilgrimage tours are with oldies! lol. we paid 3500usd apiece,
package includes:
visa application
Plane tickets,
accommodation (4-5star hotels with breakfast buffet included),
transpo all over europe;and
Dinner for the duration of the tour.

*with dinner included is such a big help since
a. we get to try the local cuisine,
b. you dont have to scrimp on your pocket money to buy food

if you’re really not sold on the whole pilgrimage thing, don’t worry, my travel agent offers purely sight-seeing tours and other packages to suit your needs. drop me a line if you’re interested and imma refer you

i cannot stress how great it is to have dinner included in the package cuz then all you have to think about is your lunch food, and you can get by with getting a few croissants during breakfast, and voila, all your pocket money goes to shopping! lol. we mostly had lunches in auto-stops or restaurants in the city we were in. for autostops you spend around 6-10 euro per person for a full lunch, and if you’re not a big lunch person, you can share it with your travel companion and split the cost! lunching in restaurants is a little pricier tho.. we spent around 30-40 euro for a lunch for two.

the places we visited are:
a. Amsterdam, Netherlands
b. Dusseldorf & Koln, Germany
c. Brussels, Belgium
d. Paris, Nevers, Ars, Lyon, Paray Le Monial, all in France
e. Lucerne, Mt. Titlis, Switzerland
f. Como, Milan, Venezia, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy
g. Vatican City, Rome
(i have this funny feeling that i’m missing a city or two especially in france and italy)

we stayed two nights in major cities like paris, lucerne, rome.i got to see snow and snowflakes in switzerland in May! how cool is that?! not to sound sooper inosente or anything, but i always thought the drawing of a snowflake is some imaginary thing but they really fall off like that! parang shaped talaga or manufactured but no!! au naturale!

here’s my two cents on the issue of whether to DIY or to go the tour route:
if you’re super adventurous, cautious and streetsmart go with the DIY. you’d be fine!

if you’re not a seasoned traveler or if you want a hassle free vacation go for the packaged one. all you have to do is haul your b*** to the bus every morning and sigh at the wonderful sights

if i was traveling alone, or with my friends or a lover i’d definitely go the DIY route. screw schedules there’s more fun in the unknown! lol

but as i was traveling with my cousin (who is more than a sister to me, a much younger sister) it was a smart choice that we went the package route rather than backpacking it the way we originally wanted. my nerves were much calmer.

Budget-wise:

i can only comment on the package thing since that’s the one i experienced
it’s crucial to note that we had pre-paid dinners included in the package so it was not included in this budgeting.500 euro would get you by for 16 days, that’s lunch money, a little side sight-seeing in the evenings, 3 packs of cigarettes and little souvenirs, with change to spare for toilet breaks (some toilets or WC as they call them charge .50 euro to a full 2 euro)

800-1000 euro would buy what 500 euros would plus an extra longchamp or two and bucket loads of souvenirs

2000 euro would buy you what 1000 euro would, plus two LV speedys, and instead of one or two longchamps you could prolly get 3, especially if you hit up la fayette and the depots (outlet stores is what i think they call it)

and while we’re on the subject of cigarettes, man, i quit them there! (almost) lol. it’s damn expensive! i’m talking about 5-12 euros expensive depending on which city you’re in. you’re better off bringing your own. (which i didnt, hence the aformentioned three packs)

my budget? me and my cousin had 1000 euros to spend but we got to bring 200-300 euro each back home cuz we weren’t interested in shopping.

dont get me wrong, i love shopping as much as the next girl.. but it takes me a while longer than the 1-2hours we had to decide on something and as we already had speedys and LCs back home, we werent in any rush to get another one. tho the discounts were drool-worthy!

valuable info:
most of them wouldnt know what CR, Comfort Room or Loo means. they do know Toilet and WC (Water Closet).

what to bring:
leggings! it saved my life!!
a day bag and a purse where you can keep small amounts of euros that will get you by for the day
boots (make sure those damned zippers work!)
true story: i hauled my boots all around europe and i didnt get to wear them once. first day in amsterdam, i was about to wear ’em for the day, i jammed the damned zippers and wasnt able to use em!
scarves. seriously. a must.
gloves, especially if you’re gonna go to snow-capped mt. titlis.. or even if you arent.

techie must-have aside from camera:
ipad and a camera connector kit – it saved me from bringing spare memory cards, i just transferred the pics in my ipad via the camera connector kit every night. (you can also do this with a netbook or a full blown laptop but a. those are heavy b. it’s a hassle going through airport security with them c. ipads are more stylish. lol! mac fangirl here. sorry)

universal adaptors. seriously. they use the two-pronged round ones in central europe (not the flat ones) and 3-pronged ones in the UK

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  1. Pingback: Jetsetter: Airplane Kit | Vanity is my favorite sin!

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